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January 15, 2014

Local rags go digital

It goes without saying that local media is being transformed by the internet age. The variety of platforms now available for disseminating local news seems to grow on a daily basis. The functions served by local media remain broadly the same as ever –shaping local identity, fostering a sense of belonging and increasing people’s connectedness with one another. But where once it was the local rag, now it can be anything. Carnegie UK is exploring what this means with five very different communities from around the UK –  Wester Hailes is the Scottish contributor.


Angus Robertson, Sleat Community Trust

Our local media is vital to our democracy. But how can we make this media sustainable when the traditional business model for local news is under significant threat? This report, based on 8 workshops with activists from around the UK, examines the demand for local news and explains how co-operative ownership could help to deliver a positive future.

To read a copy of the full report click here

Wester Hailes Project overview

WHALE Arts will train a team of citizen journalists from the Wester Hailes area in Edinburgh who will create content for and edit the news section of the Digital Sentinel website. 

A Community Media Development worker has started fortnightly training sessions for the volunteers, which have been met with great enthusiasm. The citizen journalists are being trained to create audio and video content using smart phones, tablets and digital cameras, which are uploaded on to free to access platforms and linked to the website. Content is also welcomed from any local person or organisation, and RSS feeds will be drawn from local organisations and the local council. Small adverts, what’s on guides, special offers and a strong Facebook presence is also drawing residents to the site, ensuring it remains a practical and useful tool for community cohesion 

WHALE Arts has also been welcomed by The Media Trust as a Local360 Beacon project, with the Trust providing the team with training in ethical journalism.  The Media Trust will support the development of an editorial board who will meet regularly to approve content and a steering group will develop strategy and financing.

Alison Reeves, Creative Director for WHALE Arts said: “The Digital Sentinel is a project in development and we are very grateful for the support of the Carnegie UK Trust that is enabling us to take a huge step forward.” 

“Since our local newspaper closed in 2008, community led organisations in the area have been looking for a way to give local people back their media voice. Our vision is that the Digital Sentinel will be a truly democratic news outlet, with residents trained and supported to tell their own stories to the highest journalistic standards.”

“We’ve been working as part of a great team of voluntary sector organisations, academics and local people over the past 2 years to conceive this idea. This award means we can now begin to empower the community to become ‘citizen journalists’ and report their news from their perspective.”